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They're in the money

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In late March, your MPs quietly voted in favour of giving themselves a pay raise.

You likely didn't hear about it because the memo was released on Thursday, the day before Good Friday, and the start of a two week break of Parliament.

The Ottawa press corps typically refer to the day before a long weekend as "taking out the trash day"because it is quite often when governments release things they don't want people to hear about.

But nevertheless, after a closed door meeting, MPs will now make $160,200, up from $157,731.

Senators also got a bump in pay to $135,200 from $132,300. (And yes for anyone who is wondering Sen. Patrick Brazeau will also get that raise and earn that salary even though he is on leave from the Senate pending the outcome of a criminal trial for sexual assault charges.)

MPs and Senators with additional responsibilities, like the prime minister, party leaders, party whips, cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries, will also see an increase in their bonus pay.

It is their first pay raise since 2009. The government implemented a wage freeze for a couple of years, mainly because the optics of firing 19,000 civil servants and cutting programs while lining their pockets with more money wouldn't have been all that rosy.
The increase is adjusted based on some complicated formula that looks at average private sector wage settlements.

The new salary will also be available to the person Prime Minister Stephen Harper appoints to fill the senate vacancy in Manitoba.

Conservative Terry Stratton retired from the Senate in mid-March without much fanfare.

Although Conservative MP Shelly Glover did give him a short tribute on March 8.

"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a wonderful, dedicated senator who is now retiring after two decades of service to Canadians and Manitobans. Senator Stratton has been a personal friend and an invaluable mentor to me. We share many of the same interests and passions.

"This includes the French language.

"Senator Stratton spent the early years of his career as an architect, and after working many years in that field, he became an instructor at Red River College. His commitment to our community evolved and he served on many boards, including the University of Winnipeg and the United Way of Winnipeg, and in March 1993, he was appointed to the Senate of Canada.

"For the last 20 years, Senator Stratton has worked tirelessly toward the betterment of Canada, often sacrificing personal and family time in his service to this country. He has done us all very proud, and I am sure I speak for all of my colleagues in this House when I say that he will be greatly missed. I ask the House to join me in thanking Senator Terry Stratton for his years of service and in wishing him all the best in retirement."

There are already some names being tossed about as potential replacements. The most common name to pop up is John Tropak, owner of the Video Cellar stores and a well known Manitoba Conservative campaign worker who has managed Glover's campaigns in the past.

Tropak's name came up as a Senate possibility when Sharon Carstairs resigned in the fall of 2011. However that appointment went to JoAnne Buth, whose name wasn't anywhere on the radar at the time.

In September 2012, Tropak was appointed to the judicial advisory committee in Manitoba, the body tasked with reviewing applications for judgeships.

Harper tends to keep Senate appointments close to his chest though so the rumour mill that Tropak will be Manitoba's next senator is likely just a rumour. Only Harper knows if, or when, it might come true.





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About Mia Rabson

Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.

Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.

She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.

Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.

Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.

In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.

She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.


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